Memorial Day in the Mountains

For the long weekend (last weekend, it took me a while to go through all my pictures) I went up to North Carolina, to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. Two years ago I had an internship at The Cradle of Forestry, which is just off the Parkway. It was about a three and a half hour drive from South Carolina, but worth every minute.

I spent most of the time during my internship wishing I could climb Looking Glass Rock. One of these days I will. Hopefully.

I spent many hours hiking around and exploring the area during my internship, and I wanted to go back and see if it was as beautiful as I remembered. I also needed to get my altitude fix, as I’ve spent the past 6 months in flat flat Florida and semi-flat South Carolina. It’s good for running and biking (because I don’t do hills on my bike) but I miss being able to see into the distance.

I drove up on Saturday and spent two nights camping up near Black Balsam, which is just off the parkway. Sunday morning I got up and reveled in the misty mountain view. The rest of the morning I spent hiking along the mountain ridge and getting sun burnt. After a leisurely lunch with a spectacular view I drove south along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After I called home and talked to not only my mother, sister, father and brother but also my two grandmothers (and all at the same time, too. Ah, the wonders of speaker phone). Then I made my way back to Black Balsam for a second night of camping in my new favorite camping place in Pisgah Forest.

The trail along the mountain ridge. One of my favorite places to hike in the area.
Art Loeb Spur, one of my favorite trails.

Sunset in the mountains is beautiful, and I was very tempted to just stay up there forever (or at least another few days, until my food ran out) and become a mountain woman. I had half a loaf of bread, half a chunk of cheese, and a hard-boiled egg. Definitely could have lasted at least another few days.

Campsite the first night, on the mountain side. I took this picture in the morning, when everything was misty and covered in dew.
View from my tent (taken later in the morning, after the fog burned off).

Sunday night I drove back to my new favorite camping spot up on Black Balsam, this time setting up camp on the edge of some pines, which was a little more protected from the wind (and turned out to be much less dewy). Monday morning I drove down into Brevard to buy postcards and check out the White Squirrel Festival. I missed any white squirrel-related activities, but I did have some excellent gelato and a nice conversation with the New Zealander who owns the gelato shop. On my way back up to the parkway I stopped at Slick Rock Falls.

Slick Rock Falls
Cedar Waxwing

After Brevard, I headed north along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, where I stopped for lunch. After that it was a straight shot south to South Carolina and Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge.

My campsite the second night.

I was very tempted to stay in the mountains, but the red-cockaded woodpeckers were calling and so I had to head south again. Hopefully it won’t be so long before I can visit the mountains again.

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